Shangri-La Tokyo temporarily shut down operations yesterday, March 18, 2011, and moved its executive team to Fukuoka, citing concern for employees and guests during one of Japan’s most challenging periods.
The hotel has stopped accepting customers and new bookings “until further notice”.
Wolfgang Krueger, hotel general manager, told Business Traveller from the new Fukuoka base: “It’s not that the building (next to the Tokyo train station in Marunuochi) was damaged, but we know this is a time when our employees want to be with their families. And we didn’t want them to make that decision of choosing between family and work.”
Except for Krueger and his crisis management unit of 11 – consisting of individuals who volunteered for this duty – the entire work force has been let out on paid leave. The hotel’s main line +81 3 6739 7888 has been redirected to this office, or guests can log onto the hotel’s website at www.shangri-la.com/tokyo. Remaining food supplies were donated to a shelter for the homeless and taken back by willing suppliers. “There was no dumping,” said Krueger, who opened the hotel in March 2009.
Since the nine-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan’s Miyagi prefecture on March 11, resulting in partial meltdown of two nuclear reactors in the area, day-to-day life around the country has been altered. In the capital Tokyo, 140km south of Sendai, the city hardest hit by the tremblor, scheduled and unscheduled power outages are the norm. This development has affected train runs, making it difficult for employees to report for work, observed Krueger, providing another reason to suspend operations.
Following government directives to conserve energy, hotels continuing to operate, have had to adjust by reducing the opening hours of their F&B outlets. The Peninsula’s restaurants and bar are open for lunch but it’s only the Lobby and room service open for dinner. Hotel spokeperson Mark Kobayashi said: “The number of people going out to spend (on meals etc) has dropped and because of the blackouts, they prefer to stay close to home.”
The Mandarin Oriental has closed down “until further notice” its Signature, Sense, Tapas Molecular Bar, Ventaglio, Mandarin Bar and Gourmet Shop, leaving only K’Shiki, the Oriental Lounge functioning. Hyatt’s three Tokyo properties, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency, have also tweaked the operational hours for some hotel facilities, with Park Hyatt’s popular New York Grill re-opening for lunch today, March 20.
TOKYO WATER UPDATE
The government has just released a statement saying that while a small amount of radioactive iodine has been found in the city’s tap water, it said the supply is still safe to drink.
Despite official assurance, The Peninsula spokesperson Mark Kobasyashi said they continued to offer bottled water for those guests who wish to take it.
Businesstraveller.asia is monitoring the volatile travel situation in Japan and will post updates as soon as they are available.
Margie T Logarta